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Tech News Roundup - 08/02/2017

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What Steve Bannon Wants to Do to Google. The White House strategist reportedly wants to treat tech giants as public utilities, an idea that some Democrats also support. (The Atlantic)

Democrats’ push for a new era of antitrust enforcement, explained. As congressional Democrats rolled out their new “Better Deal” agenda for the American people, even some in their own ranks were surprised by the level of interest in the party’s new agenda on antitrust and competition policy. (Vox)

Tech Politics

Wray confirmed by Senate to lead FBI after Comey firing. The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed former Justice Department lawyer Christopher Wray as FBI chief, nearly three months after the agency's previous director, James Comey, was fired by President Donald Trump. (Reuters)


U.S. Plans Trade Measures Against China. The Trump administration is planning trade measures to force Beijing to crack down on intellectual-property theft and ease requirements that American companies share advanced technologies to gain entry to the Chinese market. (Wall Street Journal)

USTR to self-initiate Section 301 investigation into China’s forced tech transfers. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative -- employing its authority under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act -- this week will self-initiate an investigation into Chinese forced technology transfer policies, addressing a longstanding concern with Beijing that was featured repeatedly in the agency’s annual Special 301 reports, sources told Inside U.S. Trade. (Inside Trade)

Schumer to Trump: Block Chinese investment in U.S. to force action on North Korea. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Tuesday urged President Donald Trump to block China from buying more U.S. companies in order to increase pressure on Beijing to take stronger action to rein in North Korea's nuclear missile program. (PoliticoPro)

USTR’s top enforcement priority: Ensure ability to hit China with AD, CVDs. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s top priorities are ensuring the Department of Commerce can continue to apply antidumping and countervailing duties to counter Chinese policies and “rigorous” enforcement in the intellectual property rights space, the agency said in a report to Congress outlining its trade enforcement objectives. (Inside Trade)

Ross: US moves to defend exporters not protectionism. Ross said the United States is well within its rights to levy trade remedies against countries like China and the European Union as a way to protect American exporters. (The Hill)

Joining Apple, Amazon’s China Cloud Service Bows to Censors. Days after Apple yanked anti-censorship tools off its app store in China, another major American technology company is moving to implement the country’s tough restrictions on online content. (New York Times)

Amazon Cloud Customers Are Told: Don’t Bypass China’s Internet Gates. Inc.’s web service partner in China, Beijing Sinnet Technology Co., has told Amazon cloud-computing customers to delete software tools that allow them to bypass China’s internet filters. (Wall Street Journal)

China to Trump: stop with the “emotional venting” on Twitter. The Chinese government is now joining the long list of people who wish President Donald Trump would stop tweeting. Xinhua, Beijing’s official news agency, published a 1,000-Chinese character editorial deriding Trump’s incessant Twitter habit as “emotional venting.” (Vox)


Trump extols corporate profits while seeking corporate tax cut. U.S. President Donald Trump sent a Twitter message bragging about corporate America's high profits under his presidency on Tuesday, prompting critics to say he was undercutting Republican arguments in favor of a tax cut for corporations. (Reuters)

Senate pivots to tax reform fight. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed on Tuesday that Republicans will use the fast-track reconciliation process to move a tax reform bill, which will allow them to clear legislation without Democratic support. (The Hill)

Democrats Outline Terms for Working With GOP on Taxes. Senate Democrats outlined their conditions for working with the Trump administration and congressional Republicans on tax policy, and their principles didn’t seem to leave much room for common ground. (wall Street Journal)

The Tax Reform America Needs (and Probably Won’t Get). As multinational corporations have hopscotched around the globe to find the most profitable base from which to run their affairs, they have set off furious competition among governments hoping to lure investment by slashing tax rates to the bone. (New York Times)

Debt ceiling, budget debate may delay action on Trump tax plan. The White House’s push to quickly pass a major package of tax cuts is facing a fall calendar full of legislative land mines. (Washington Post)


New data on H-1B visas prove that IT outsourcers hire a lot but pay very little. Hard numbers have been released by the US government agency that screens visas for high-skilled foreign workers, and they are not pretty. Data made available by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the first time show that the widely made complaint about the visa program is true: a small number of IT outsourcing companies get a disproportionately high number of H-1B visas and pay below-average wages to their workers. (Quartz)


Senators offer bill to boost security of internet-connected devices. A bipartisan group of senators unveiled legislation Tuesday to bring more security to internet-connected devices, often referred to as the "internet of things." (The Hill)

U.S. senators introduce bill to secure 'internet of things'. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday introduced legislation seeking to address vulnerabilities in computing devices embedded in everyday objects - known in the tech industry as the "internet of things" - which experts have long warned poses a threat to global cyber security. (Reuters)

GAO: Keeping NSA and Cybercom together makes hacking tool leaks more likely. The fact the National Security Agency shares so many of its hacking tools with its sister organization U.S. Cyber Command makes it more likely those tools will be leaked to nefarious hackers, a watchdog says. (The Atlantic)

Can government help fight the war on botnets? As the number of internet-connected devices increases, so does the threat of botnets and potential attacks. ITI is mentioned. (FCW)

Industry warns against regulations in addressing botnet threats under Trump cyber order. The telecommunications industry and a major business group are urging the Trump administration to avoid setting regulatory requirements to address the growing threat of automated cyber attacks under the president's cybersecurity order. (Inside Cybersecurity)

White House officials, including cyber officials, tricked by email prankster. A self-described "email prankster" in the UK fooled a number of White House officials into thinking he was other officials, including an episode where he convinced the White House official tasked with cyber security that he was Jared Kushner and received that official's private email address unsolicited. (CNN)


Wyden presses spy chief on surveillance powers. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wants the Trump administration's top intelligence chief to clarify whether the government can use a foreign surveillance law to collect "entirely domestic" communications. Wyden sent a letter Monday to National Intelligence Director Dan Coats following up on a question regarding Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that Wyden posed during a June Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. (FCW)

Data Breach

Court says health insurance company can be sued for data breach. The nation’s second most powerful court ruled Tuesday that a health insurance company's customers can sue the provider for a 2014 cyberattack in which their personal information was stolen. (The Hill)

Lawsuit accuses DoD of not securing millions of troops' personal info. Vietnam Veterans of America is suing the Defense Department for potentially exposing personal information of millions of current and former service members through lax oversight of its Servicemembers Civil Relief Act website. (Military Times)


Senate bill would ease law enforcement access to overseas data. Senators introduced bipartisan legislation Tuesday that would create a legal framework allowing law enforcement to access Americans' electronic communications in servers located in other countries. (The Hill)

Online Speech & Free Expression

Tech companies fear repercussions from a new bill in the U.S. Congress to combat human trafficking. A new bill by Republican Sen. Rob Portman — backed by 19 other lawmakers from both parties — would open the door for state attorneys general and victims alike to take legal action against social networks, review websites, advertisers and others that don’t do enough to combat users who post exploitative content. But the proposal is already drawing opposition from Silicon Valley, where tech companies want to put an end to human trafficking — but don’t want to do so in a way that also subjects them to new lawsuits. (Recode)

Online sex trafficking bill prompts opposition from Silicon Valley. The bill, called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, follows a two-year Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Investigations probe into the site over allegations that it had knowingly facilitated sex trafficking. (The Hill)


Senators introduce bipartisan bill to bring high speed wireless to rural America. A pair of senators introduced bipartisan legislation on Tuesday that aims to improve wireless networks in underserved rural areas of America. ITI's Vince Jesaitis is quoted. (The Hill)


DHS joins Facebook and YouTube at counter terrorism summit. The Homeland Security Department is working with social media giants Twitter and Facebook to combat violent extremism online. (NextGov)


VR Is the Fastest-Growing Skill for Online Freelancers. Workers who specialize in artificial intelligence also saw big jumps in demand for their expertise. (Bloomberg)

OpEd: A Bipartisan Agenda to Expand New Collar Jobs. The recently introduced New Collar Jobs Act targets workforce training in one field, but policymakers can go further. They should work together across the aisle to provide more American workers with access to the broader range of well-paying new collar jobs available in the technology sector. (The Hill)

You Don't Need to be a College Grad to Work in Tech. The technology industry has a lot of jobs to fill. IBM's solution to that problem has been to change where it recruits. The company has a program called New Collar that focuses on getting more employees without four-year college degrees. (Marketplace)

Public Sector

Two U.S. lawmakers think the government has a new cybersecurity problem: The Internet of Things. That’s the aim of a new bill out today by Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat in Virginia, and Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado. Their measure — called the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017 — is an attempt to force companies that sell wearables, sensors and other web-connected tools to federal agencies to adhere to some new security standards. (Recode)

GAO: Pentagon needs stronger guidance for IoT device security. A GAO report found that the DOD’s policies on Internet of Things devices aren’t sufficient enough to guard against their potential security risks. (FedScoop)

Corker: Senate committee may not pass budget. The Senate Budget Committee may not pass a budget resolution for fiscal 2018, panel member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday. (The Hill)

Trump’s first anti-regulation agenda wins favor with federal contractors. Federal agencies have withdrawn or weakened 860 proposed regulations initially put forward at the end of the Obama administration, a move one industry insider called a significant initiative for government contractors. (Federal News Radio)

GSA awards $50B EIS contract to 10 telecom companies. After almost two years in development, the General Services Administration has awarded its $50 billion contract that will impact the way agencies buy network and telecommunications products and services for the next decade and a half. (FedScoop)

DHS CIO pursuing $250M in cloud-focused ‘technical support services’. DHS issued a sources sought solicitation Aug. 1 for architecture, development and platform technical services, largely anchored around a move to modernized cloud computing capabilities. (FedScoop)

OPM nominee Nesterczuk withdraws. George Nesterczuk, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management, has withdrawn his name from consideration. (Federal News Radio)

Trump Wanted a Cheaper Air Force One. So the USAF Is Buying a Bankrupt Russian Firm’s Undelivered 747s. The service is reportedly getting a good deal on the jets, which list for around $390 million and are now sitting in the Mojave Desert. (DefenseOne)

Pentagon Now Offering Top Officials Classified Tablets. Top Pentagon officials can now access classified documents and correspondence on tablet computers under a pilot program, the Defense Department said Tuesday. (NextGov)

Trump administration taps innovation expert to lead VA’s integration office. President Donal Trump nominated Melissa Sue Glynn on Monday to serve as the Department of Veterans Affairs’ assistant secretary for enterprise integration and lead the agency’s Office of Enterprise Integration. (FedScoop)

Massachusetts forms new executive technology office to pursue consolidation. Leadership of the state's technology office will stay with Mark Nunnelly as the governor pushes for a consolidated IT enterprise. (StateScoop)

New Mexico's ERP project is 'a big deal' and collaboration made it happen. The state CIO says New Mexico is building communities inside government to guide big projects — like its enterprise resource planning platform — to completion. (StateScoop)

As chief data officers increase in government, so must governance and strategy. On the latest episode of StateScoop’s Priorities podcast, leaders from the public and private sectors say governance and strategy will drive the future of data analytics in state government. (StateScoop)

Environment and Energy

Top EPA official resigns over direction of agency under Trump. A top Environmental Protection Agency official resigned Tuesday in protest of the direction the EPA has taken under President Trump. (The Hill)

This video shows the extraordinary trend of global warming in more than 100 countries. This captivating video created by Antti Lipponen visualizes more than 100 years of temperature change in 191 countries in just 35 seconds. (Vox)

Tech Business

China-Backed Fund Plays Big Role in Country’s Chip Push. The national chip fund has provided financing for deals seen as key in helping Chinese companies produce more powerful, cutting-edge semiconductors. U.S. chip makers Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. each have participated in deals with Chinese companies backed by the fund, said its executive vice president Wei Jun. (Wall Street Journal)

Trump: Foxconn CEO said 'off the record' that he may invest $30B. President Trump said Tuesday that the head of electronics manufacturer Foxconn had privately told him that the company may invest as much as $30 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations — three times as much as what it had promised last week. (The Hill)

Snap, Blue Apron Shake Confidence in Valuations. Snap and Blue Apron were supposed to herald a return of the great technology IPO. They have instead become vehicles of market dismay. (Wall Street Journal)

Seed funding slows in Silicon Valley. The bloom is off seed funding, the business of providing money to brand-new startups, as investors take a more measured approach to financing emerging U.S. technology companies. (Reuters)

At a microchip ‘party,’ 50 workers get implants — while others worry about hackers and the devil. A company that hopes to sell the implants first persuaded some employees to get the device, which allows a user to buy a soda or log on to a computer with a wave of the hand. (Washington Post)

Why Tesla is overhyped — and overvalued. Silicon Valley investors love to talk about “disruption” — they are besotted with the storyline of small, scrappy, high-tech underdogs upending boring “legacy” corporations. And nowhere is this disruption fetish more evident than in the valuation of Tesla, and the deep problems with “disruption” theory. (Vox)

Etsy’s Painful Lesson: It’s a Retailer, Not a Tech Startup. Two years after its much-hyped IPO, Etsy is dealing with slowing sales and frustrated investors. The online marketplace is under pressure to stop spending like a tech startup and start acting like a retailer. (Wall Street Journal)

Sprint Says a Merger Decision Is Near. Sprint said it would decide soon on whether to pursue a merger with either T-Mobile US or Charter Communications, with an announcement coming “in the near future,” according to the wireless carrier’s chief executive. (Wall Street Journal)

ITI Member News

Apple Profit Surges 12% on Revived iPad, Mac Sales. Apple delivered strong revenue in the June quarter, typically its weakest period, by re-energizing iPad and Mac sales and keeping purchases of iPhones steady as consumers anticipate a new phone this fall. (Wall Street Journal)

Facebook Is Working on a Video Chat Device. Facebook Inc. is working on a video chat device for the home -- the first major hardware product from its experimental Building 8 lab. (Bloomberg)

Today on the Hill

The Senate stands adjourned until 10:00am on Wednesday, August 2. Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #175, Marvin Kaplan, of Kansas, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board. At 11:00am there will be a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the nomination. During Tuesday’s session, Senator McConnell filed cloture on the motion to proceed to Calendar #174, H.R.2430, FDA User Fees.

The House is not in session today and not expected to return from August recess until votes are called after 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 5.

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